Sunday, December 4, 2011

What I've read so far this year

As I stated before I set out to read a book a week in 2011. It's a pretty modest goal, but I'm not the fastest reader ever and have many competing interests for my time. But I'm happy to say that I'm on pace to meet that goal, with 49 titles read through 48 weeks. Here's the list (including my ratings):

1. Roots and Branches, Tom Shippey, 4 stars

2. Legend, David Gemmell, 4 stars

3. The Sword of Rhiannon, Leigh Brackett, 3.5 stars

4. Grails: Quests of the Dawn, Richard Gilliam, Mercedes Lackey, Andre Norton editors, 3 stars

5. God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens, 3.5 stars

6. The Burning Land, Bernard Cornwell 3.5 stars

7. No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy, 4.5 stars

8. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, J.R.R. Tolkien, 3.5 stars

9. Resolute Determination: Napoleon and the French Empire (The Modern Scholar), 3.5 stars

10. The Company They Keep, Diana Glyer, 4 stars

11. The Desert of Souls, Howard Andrew Jones, 3.5 stars

12. The Brothers Bulger, Howie Carr, 3 stars

13. Phantastes, George MacDonald, 3.5 stars

14. Tolkien and the Invention of Myth, Jane Chance editor, 3.5 stars

15. One Who Walked Alone, Novalyne Price Ellis, 4 stars

16. Damnation Alley, Roger Zelazny, 3 stars

17. Walden, Henry David Thoreau, 4 stars

18. Ivanhoe, Sir Walter Scott, 4 stars

19. Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse, John Joseph Adams editor, 3.5 stars

20. Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson, 3.5 stars

21. The Broken Sword, Poul Anderson, 4.5 stars

22. The Dirt, Motley Crue, 3 stars

23. Tarzan of the Apes, Edgar Rice Burroughs, 4 stars

24. Tolkien: A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings, Lin Carter, 3.5 stars

25. The Dark Tide, Dennis McKiernan, 3 stars

26. Watership Down, Richard Adams, 5 stars

27. Shadows of Doom, Dennis McKiernan, 2.5 stars

28. The Darkest Day, Dennis McKiernan, 3 stars

29. The Allegory of Love, C.S. Lewis, 4 stars

30. Imaro, Charles Saunders, 3.5 stars

31. Sword Woman and Other Historical Adventures, Robert E. Howard, 4 stars

32. The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman, 4 stars

33. The Subtle Knife, Philip Pullman, 3.5 stars

34. The Fantastic Swordsmen, L. Sprague de Camp ed., 4 stars

35. Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis, 3.5 stars

36. Warriors, George R.R. Martin, Gardner Dozois eds., 4 stars

37. The Last Lecture, Randy Pausch, 3.5 stars

38. The Amber Spyglass, Philip Pullman, 3.5 stars

39. The Case for God, Karen Armstrong, 4 stars

40. The Golden Apples of the Sun, Ray Bradbury, 4 stars

41. Dangerous Visions, Harlan Ellison ed., 4 stars

42. The Rising, Brian Keene, 3.5 stars

43. The Undiscovered Self, C.G. Jung, 4.5 stars

44. Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead, John Skipp editor, 4 stars

45. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny, 4 stars

46. The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien, 5 stars

47. The Demon of Scattery, Poul Anderson and Mildred Downey Broxon, 3.5 stars

48. Bringing Down the House, Ben Mezrich, 3 stars

49. Dark Crusade, Karl Edward Wagner, 4 stars

My eclectic tastes are on full display here. There's a lot of swords and sorcery (Dark Crusade, Imaro, The Fantastic Swordsmen, Legend) mixed with epic fantasy (FOTR, His Dark Materials trilogy, Iron Tower trilogy). I've been picking off some of the SF/fantasy classics (Lord of Light, Phantastes, Golden Apples of the Sun) while showing my weakness for zombie stories (The Rising, Zombies: Encounters with the Hungry Dead). I've got a fair bit of non-fiction mixed in too: Everything from both sides of the God debate (Hitchens vs. Armstrong), to an MIT card-counting ring (Bringing Down the House), to autobiographical material (Howard, C.S. Lewis) to Jung. If I'm interested in it, I'll read it.

This exercise has again underscored the need to increase my reading speed. I frankly have no idea how anyone can read 300 or 400 books in a year, but I've seen people claiming those totals. I am giving some serious thought to setting aside a future slot to a speed-reading title.

8 comments:

Paul R. McNamee said...

I am woefully under goal this year, but some of that is due to increased comic reading.

I hope to do better.

As for speed reading - good for school work. But, as a friend once told me, "I was reading Ursula LeGuin, and some asked if I speed-read it. I asked, 'Why in the world would I want to?'"

;)

Lagomorph Rex said...

That is an impressive list. I don't think its really all that eclectic. I noticed we both read Walden, and more or less had opposite reactions to him.

I'm afraid I'm going to come in just shy of my goal of 150 this year.. last year I met and exceeded it.. but with starting school, LARPing, D&D among other things.. its just kind of slowed me down..

Taran said...

Christopher Hitchens vs. Karen Armstrong? Armstrong wins, no question. I've always been impressed with her academic work.

I'd love to make a "books read this year" but I haven't kept track and there were just so many.

Brian Murphy said...

As for speed reading - good for school work. But, as a friend once told me, "I was reading Ursula LeGuin, and some asked if I speed-read it. I asked, 'Why in the world would I want to?'"

You're probably right Paul. I just to figure out a practical way to get to more. Maybe sleeping less :)?

I'm afraid I'm going to come in just shy of my goal of 150 this year.. last year I met and exceeded it.

Wow, 150 ... even with school and other distractions that's impressive. I wish I had a "down" year like that.

Christopher Hitchens vs. Karen Armstrong? Armstrong wins, no question. I've always been impressed with her academic work.

Hitchens wins on style, Armstrong on substance.

francisco said...

for fast reading the key is break the subvocalic barrier, barrera subvocalica in spanish, I don't know the english translation, to break that barrier you must read one entire line or a paragraph with just one look, not doing the usual reading of repeat every word in your mind, instead the look must go to the entire line or a paragraph when you practise... some people can read a page with just one look!!!

a lot of re readings in your lists, isn't it?

Brian Murphy said...

Thanks Francisco. A few re-readings, yes--I'm not one of those types who can read a book once and claim perfect knowledge.

Tim Mayer said...

Great Blog! I've just added it the list of recommended ones on my reading Blog.

Brian Murphy said...

Thanks Tim! I'll take at yours.